It was the Big D in Gettysburg on Tuesday night, Feb. 26, and I don’t mean Dallas. Dawson Simon was on fire and the Battlers’ defense was gigantic in defeating the Ipswich Tigers in the second round of the Region 2B playoffs.
The Tigers had just won their way into the second round by besting the Eureka/Bowdle Patriots, 70 to 28 the day before. Plus, they just narrowly lost to the Battlers by 3 points, 67 to 64, on Feb. 21 in Ipswich in the last game of the regular season. Thus, they had the momentum, and the Battlers had a case of the nerves when this second round playoff game commenced. And it clearly showed because the Tigers had a 3 point lead of 11 to 8 at the end of the first period of play and it looked like the Battlers could not buy a basket. It was not for the lack of shooting either, because whether they were heaving up 3-pointers or right under the basket nothing was really dropping in for the home team. Cole Nafziger had 2 points, Dylan Drew had a basket as well, and of course, Dawson Simon contributed 4-points.
Potter County’s dismal shooting continued until freshman Grant Luikens came off the bench and dropped in two 3-point shots in the second quarter. With the lid tore off the bucket, Nafziger scored 5 points, Shad Sharp contributed 6 points, Cooper Logan added 1 point, and Simon sank two baskets and one free-throw. This surge in scoring propelled the Battlers into the lead and they walked off the court leading the Tigers 31 to 28 at halftime.
The break, however, did not lessen the fight in the Tigers because they stayed right with the Battlers in scoring. The third period concluded with the score being 42 to 40 and fortunately, it was in favor of Potter County. In this period the Tigers got their seventh 3-point shot for the game, and if not for Simon scoring 8 points and Sharp adding 3 points, the pesky Tigers might have turned the tables on the Battlers.
Now in the fourth period, it looked like that lid worked its way back on the Battlers’ basket because no field goals were falling to start the period. Potter County did not collect a field goal until over halfway through the quarter when Nafziger scored a bucket. And when Calen Decker finally hit a 3-point shot the gym erupted in such a roar that it shook the snow off the gymnasium’s roof. Other than these two field goals, there were no others. If not for Potter County hitting 12 of their 14 free-throws during this final period of play things could have gone the wrong way for the Battlers. Nafziger made all 8 of his free-throws, Dylan Drew was 2 for 2, Kolten Kirby was 1 of 2, and Simon made 1 of his 2.
It was a great game and just wonderful to witness, because other than senior Dawson Simon being the heart and soul of the Battlers, it was Potter County’s defense that finally derailed the Tigers’ offense. When the home team’s shooting was cold or nonexistent, it was their defense that kept Ipswich from mounting any attack to threaten Potter County’s march to victory. You could see Potter County’s full court pressing wearing down the Tigers from the very start of the game and in the fourth quarter when the Tigers were running out of gas they only managed to score 2 points – just 2 points – to finally fall 59 to 42 to the Battlers.
There was one scary moment in the game that occurred about halfway through the fourth quarter when one of the Tigers’ big men slammed into Simon hard when he was up in the air trying to score on a breakaway layup. Silence immediately grabbed everyone as this young man did not get up from the hard foul, and it remained eerily quiet until he was finally helped up to his feet. Even then there was a great deal of muttering by the home town fans because Simon was grabbing his shoulder and it was obvious he was in a great deal of pain. But instead of going out of the game he went to the free-throw line and abruptly missed the first of two shots that again brought a unified hush throughout the gym. But when he made his second attempt it seemed to be like a defibrillator was applied because everyone’s heartbeat returned to normal.
In conclusion, after everyone regained some degree of composure following the sounding of the buzzer to indicate that the home team was moving on to the third round of the Region 2B playoffs, it was announced that Simon had scored over 1,000 points throughout his storied varsity career for the Potter County Battlers. It was verified that this young gladiator actually accomplished this milestone during the Redfield game that took place on Feb. 4. Congratulations, Number 23.
Potter County 59 Ipswich 42
Region 2B at Gettysburg
Potter County 8 23 11 17 — 59
Ipswich 11 17 12 2 — 42
POTTER COUNTY (15-6): Cole Nafziger 17, Calen Decker 3, Kolten Kirby 1, Shad Sharp 9, Dawson Simon 18, Dylan Drew 4, Cooper Logan 1, Grant Luikens 6.
IPSWICH (11-10): Will Kadlec 8, Ben Kulesa 1, Jacob Nierman 5, Daniel Braun 16, Carson Simes 12.
3-pt FG — PC 2 (Nafziger 1, Decker 1); IPS 7 (Nierman 1, Braun 4, Simes 2). Fouls — PC 10; ISP 19. Fouled out — None. Rebounds — PC 31 (Simon 12); IPS 31 (Braun 7). Assists — PC 5 (Kirby 2); IPS 0. Turnovers — PC 6; IPS 16. Steals — PC 13 (Simon 5); IPS 4 (Braun 2). Blocks — PC 3 (Simon 3).